Patna: Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, inspired by the success of total prohibition in Bihar launched last year, on Monday started a campaign against dowry and child marriages on Gandhi Jayanti here. His mission has received support from the BJP led by deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi also.

The State government organised a programme at Bapu Mandapam of the Ashoka Convention Centre, where the chief minister administered the oath to 5,000 people, invoking a total ban on dowry and child marriages.

Kumar had announced on 21 January that a human chain would be organised all over Bihar to create public awareness for the success of the drive.

The State social welfare department has engaged over 2,000 folk artistes to spread the message of ban on dowry and child marriages. Regulations to enforce the ban has been made stringent as the priests, parents of brides and grooms, members of the band and musical parties and entire barat (wedding procession by the groom’s family) would be arrested for violation of the dowry ban and child marriage.

The chief minister asked the people to socially boycott the people who accepted or gave dowries and engaged in child marriages.

Speaker of Bihar assembly Vijay Kumar Chaudhury suggested that the action against dowry should be taken at the time of negotiations for marriages and not after years of the wedding.

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who had opposed strict laws on prohibition, today defended the ban on dowry and child marriages and said that women should be actively involved in enforcing the total ban on the said social evils.

Child marriages are common in northern Bihar districts of Supaul and Madhepura followed by Kishanganj and Sheohar, according to the principal secretary of social welfare department, S Vijaylakshmi. Bihar ranks second in the cases of dowry deaths and torture, according to the official.

The latest action of Nitish Kumar is expected to be backed by the women electorate who had also supported the anti-liquor campaign.

Hindusthan Samachar/Law Kumar Mishra